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IIT - Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia

The Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) is a Foundation created to promote excellence in research in Italy. It is open to the active participation of private organizations to encourage technological development and training in high technology. IIT aims at becoming an international center of excellence for scientific research in advanced technology, attracting contributions from researchers and experts from the world of research. Focusing on synergy and interdisciplinarity, four technological platforms (Neurosciences, Nanobiotechnologies, Drug Discovery Development and Robotics) will develop research activities with the common aim of studying humanoid technologies. The research will result in multiple industrial and social outcomes and impacts regarding various sectors such as manufacturing, medical/surgical, security, and space exploration. Currently, there are over 350 researchers at IIT. IIT participates in FOCUS with two research unit: NBT and the Nanofabrication Facility.

NBT (Department of Neuroscience and Brain Technologies)
The NBT department (about 100 staff members), led by Prof. Fabio Benfenati has the objective to apply new technologies to the study of the central nervous system, with special reference to the learning and adaptation strategies of the nervous tissue and the relationships between neural molecules and information coding and processing in the brain. The main themes investigated by NBT are: (i) cellular mechanisms of plasticity at various levels of brain complexity from individual synapses to neural networks to the live animal; (ii) experimental models of brain diseases; (iii) neuron-to-chip systems allowing the study of the basic properties of simplified neuronal networks and the implementation of new neuron-based biosensors and neuroprosthetic interfaces. The Department consists of an electrophysiology unit (including neuroelectronic interface laboratories), a molecular and cellular neurobiology unit with cell culture and live neuroimaging facilities and a clean room fully equipped for fabrication of neural interfaces.
Role and expertise of NBT in the project
Within FOCUS project, NBT will develop strategies for targeting optogentic probes in cell-type specific cells and sub-cellular compartments. These will include design and development of appropriate viral-vectors. This is a central point in the investigation of single molecule activation in neurons. Moreover, expertise in electrophysiology combined with live cell imaging and single molecule tracking in neurons will be exploited to deeply understand the mechanism of single molecule processing taking place in neuronal cells and in their sub-cellular compartments. Prof. Fabio Benfenati, MD, is director of the Department of Neuroscience and Brain Technologies of the Italian Institute of Technology, full professor of Neurophysiology at the Department of Experimental Medicine of the University of Genova and Adjunct Professor, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA. Fabio Benfenati is a recognized expert of synaptic transmission. Dr. Luca Berdondini, PhD received the M.Sc. degree in microengineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne in 1999 with a Master Thesis at Caltech (USA). his research team at IIT focuses on the development of innovative high-information content neuroelectronic interfacing platforms for fundamental and applied neurophysiology. Dr. Andrea Barberis, PhD, Team Leader who is studying the mechanisms of GABAergic synaptic transmission;
Nanofabrication Facility
The scientific activity of the IIT Nanofabrication Facility that Enzo Di Fabrizio coordinates spans from nanotechnology and biophotonic (including photonic crystal and plasmonic based devices) to biology. Special attention is dedicated to the in situ release of drugs for tumors care, through innovative devices based in general on nanocarriers such as nanocapsules, nanoparticles and polymers, and, in particular, on Silicon nanoporous. Additional biophotonic devices a based on the SERS effect (surface Enhanced Raman Scattering) or NEAR-INFRA (Near Field Infrared) are under development. These devices will have a sensitivity close to that of single molecules. Further scientific effort is dedicated to the drawing and to the fabrication of microfluidic devices whose aim is the quantitative study of the conditions of interaction of drugs with endotelial tissues and to the diffusion, in the extracellular matrix. On these scientific themes, Enzo Di Fabrizio coordinates, and/or participates in different national and EU projects. During this last year, the laboratory has started an activity on low consumption eco-compatible devices.
Enzo Di Fabrizio is full professor of Physics at the University Magna Grecia in Catanzaro (UMG). Since July 1st 2009, he is director of the nanofabrication facility at IIT (Italian Institute of Technology). Enzo Di Fabrizio’s work can be described as an interdisciplinary activity that includes basic and applied research. Over the years, he has given for each one of them relevant contributions that have been recognized and appreciated at international level. In the last few years, Enzo Di Fabrizio‘s scientific career has essentially focused on seeking an interaction between Physics and Biology. He has published more than 220 papers on international journals
Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia
Via Morego 30, Genova